“Building Community” — Special Families Making a Difference

Guest blogger: Tami Krispin, CEO, “Kesher-Connecting Special Families”

The driving force behind “building communities” is my own personal story and the stories of other Israeli families who have children with special needs. Sixteen years ago I took my son into the local family health center for a regular checkup; I was expecting to hear how wonderfully he was doing. The nurse started to check his hearing and then it happened, the moment the world collapsed: “Your son can’t hear.”

There are more than 300,000 children with special needs in Israel and the changes in their family’s lives are both numerous and endless. With so many ways to cope with being a special family, we chose to become active in shaping our own reality. Our strength and hope came from taking action, being involved and seeing to it that our child would have the same opportunities in life as his peers.

Now there is help for families like ours. “Parents Build a Community” — a joint project of the Ruderman Family Foundation, “Kesher-Connecting Special Families,” the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Service, JDC Ashalim, and the Yosftal Institute —  is building a National Leadership Special Parents group that will develop “Centers for Special Families” country wide. Since who is better to decide which facilities are needed in the community than the parents themselves, this network will form the basis of an influential country-wide social action constituency.

We’re off to a wonderful start. A “Parents Building Community” training course this spring and summer brought together a unique group of special parents. Eighteen members from 15 communities presented their Centers for Special Families projects, and shared their excitement, fears and new sense of discovery both of parents’ group power and of themselves as emerging leaders.

“We hoped that by the end of the second year we would have in our Centers for Special Families a parents-led group that would be able to develop meaningful projects, but it happened much earlier,” said Booki Kimchi, Kesher’s Professional Director and Director of Training Programs. “After only a few meetings, it was amazing to see these parents so inspired to work in their own communities.”

With the power of mutual responsibly, “Kol Yisrael arevim zeh lezeh” means the ability to shape our own reality. Active and involved parents will bring the best improvement for our children and our own families’ quality of life.

— Tami Krispin

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